|Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, who went from the migrant farms of Northern California to Harvard Medical School: NPR.org|
(Story reported by producer Alice Winkler for "All Things Considered", broadcast on NPR.org, 6.May.2007)
The life of Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, a former illegal immigrant, may sound like a movie script, but it is no fiction.
Twenty years ago, he hopped a border fence from Mexico into the United States and became a migrant farmworker.
Today, he is a neurosurgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins University, and a researcher who is looking for a breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer.
His remarkable journey began in a tiny farming community, 60 miles south of the U.S. border. Quinones-Hinojosa was born there, and by age 5, he was working at his father's gas station. His grandmother was a village healer and a midwife.
But in the mid-1970s, Mexico's economy collapsed, and his father could no longer keep food on the table for the family. Quinones-Hinojosa continued his schooling and became a teacher by the time he was 18, but he, too, was unable to provide for his family. So he made the decision — like so many relatives before him — to head north.
Quinones-Hinojosa picked cotton, tomatoes and cantaloupes, and lived in the fields in a broken-down camper he bought for $300. When his cousin told him he would be a farmworker for the rest of his life, he realized it was time to move on.
(Click here to read the full story on the NPR.org website. Below is the podcast of Debbie Elliot interviewing Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa for this truly inspiring "All Things Considered" story on NPR News.)